CNBC Disruptor 50

Klarna becomes Europe's biggest fintech unicorn at over $10 billion valuation after mega-round

Key Points
  • Klarna nearly doubled its prior valuation in the new $650 million round, led by Silver Lake Partners, from $5.5 billion to $10.6 billion.
  • Known for its "buy now, pay later" model, it offers shoppers interest-free financing on retail purchases over a period of installments.
  • The fundraising round places Klarna among the top five highest-valued fintechs in the world, according to CB Insights data, alongside hot financial start-ups like Stripe and Robinhood. 
The logo of Swedish payment provider Klarna.
Thomas Trutschel | Photothek | Getty Images

Klarna is now officially Europe's highest valued private fintech company.

The Swedish online payments firm says it has raised $650 million in an equity funding round, valuing the company at $10.6 billion. The round was led by Silver Lake Partners, alongside GIC, Singapore's sovereign wealth fund, as well as BlackRock and HMI Capital.

"Klarna is one of the most disruptive and promising fintech companies in the world, redefining the ecommerce experience for millions of consumers and global retailers, just as ecommerce growth is accelerating worldwide and rapidly shifting to mobile," said Jonathan Durham, managing director of Silver Lake Partners, in a release announcing the deal.

A regulated bank, Klarna is mostly known for its "buy now, pay later" model that offers shoppers interest-free financing on retail purchases over a period of installments. Klarna pays a merchant once a customer buys something using its platform, while users are later invoiced over a number of installments. Its regional competitors include British banking app Revolut and payments software maker

Revolut, Klarna and Checkout had all been valued at $5.5 billion, according to CB Insights' unicorn tracker, before the deal.

The company also competes with the likes of U.S.-based Affirm, which is led by PayPal co-founder Max Levchin, and Australia's Afterpay. Last month, Afterpay said it had agreed to buy Spanish firm Pagantis in a deal that allows it to expand into Europe, effectively challenging Klarna.

To date, the Klarna app has more than 12 million monthly active users worldwide, with 55,000 daily downloads, which the company claims is almost three times as many downloads as its closest competitor over the last year.

Klarna ranked No. 5 on this year's CNBC Disruptor 50 list.

"We are at a true inflection point in both retail and finance," Klarna co-founder and CEO Sebastian Siemiatkowski said in the deal announcement. "The shift to online retail is now truly supercharged and there is a very tangible change in the behaviour of consumers who are now actively seeking services which offer convenience, flexibility and control in how they pay and an overall superior shopping experience."

Europe's Top Fintech Unicorn: Klarna CEO on $10.6 billion valuation, fundraising mega-round

Klarna is experiencing rapid U.S. growth as the country continues to feel the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result of the accelerated switch to online retail and evolving consumer preferences, the company has added more than 35,000 new retailers during the first half of 2020 to its network of more than 200,000 retail partners, including Sephora, Groupon and Ralph Lauren.

A recent McKinsey & Company consumer survey found that more than 75% of consumers have tried new brands, places to shop or methods of shopping throughout the pandemic. Additionally, 82% of those who have tried a new digital shopping method intend to continue using it even after returning to some semblance of normal. For Klarna, that's resulted in volume and revenue growth of 44% in the first half of 2020, and 36% year-over-year to more than $22 billion and $466 million respectively. 

But volume and revenue growth hasn't translated into net profits. Klarna saw losses rise dramatically in the first half of the year as it invested in an international expansion and set aside reserves to deal with credit losses amid the pandemic. Klarna's interim first-half report showed a net loss of 522 million Swedish krona ($59.8 million) between January and June, a sevenfold increase from the net loss of 73 million krona it posted in the same period last year.

Credit losses — incurred when a customer doesn't pay back a loan — almost doubled to around 1.2 billion krona, a figure the group said was adjusted for "macroeconomic uncertainty."

However, Klarna says the firm's balance sheet was "strong" and overall losses accounted for only 0.6% of entire sales volume at the time.

The latest investor fundraising not only makes it the highest-valued private fintech company in Europe, but also the fourth-highest valued private fintech company worldwide.

Top global fintech unicorns

Company Valuation Country Top investors
Stripe$36 billionUnited StatesKhosla Ventures, LowercaseCapital, capitalG
One97 Communications$16 billionIndiaIntel Capital, Sapphire Ventures, Alibaba Group
Robinhood$11.2 billionUnited StatesGoogle Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, DST Global
Klarna$10.6 billionSwedenSilver Lake Partners, BlackRock, GIC
Nubank$10 billionBrazilSequoia Capital, Redpoint, Kaszek Ventures
Ripple$10 billionUnited StatesIDG Capital, Venture51, Lightspeed Venture Partners
Coinbase$8 billionUnited StatesY Combinator, Union Square Ventures, DFJ Growth
Chime$5.8 billionUnited StatesForerunner Ventures, Crosslink Capital, Homebrew
Revolut$5.5 billionUnited Kingdomindex Ventures, DST Global, Ribbit Capital$5.5 billionUnited KingdomInsight Partners, DST Global

Source: CB Insights, Klarna